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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Memo to Facebook

To: Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook President and CEO
David A. Ebersman, Facebook CFO
Sheryl K. Sandberg, Facebook COO
Theodore W. Ullyot, Facebook VP and General Counsel
Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook Marketing Director

From: Maria I. Kuroshchepova, Facebook user

Date: 1/9/11

Re: Integrity, consistency and common sense

Dear Facebook Officers,

I do not hate Facebook. I do not think it is a mind-control organization designed to spy on and brainwash us all. I appreciate the services it provides, the fantastic people it enabled me to meet, and the incredible relationships it helped me establish.

That said, I often wonder about thought processes that go into the Facebook changes, especially those pertaining to privacy and propriety guidelines. I am sorry to say, but the “just do it” approach that appears to dominate Facebook upgrades, is not working. You are no longer operating from a college dorm room, you are a serious company now – so start acting like one.

People do not want their privacy settings' default to be “broadcast to everyone and their brother”. They do not want to have to re-learn where everything is every two months. They do not want to be force-fed the latest and greatest while they are still getting used to the last latest and greatest. Perhaps, you should ask your users about it before making the changes, rather than dumping them on the site regardless of what anyone thinks.

You have all these fantastic tools that make it possible to create advanced demographic maps of your user population. Instead of using them for creating stupid games and surveys, use them to determine whether your users are of the age, education and attitude as to respond well to specific changes. Run trials. Conduct surveys. Yes, that is what big corporations do, and as a young hip company you probably do not want to duplicate them. But guess what? Not everything corporate equals bad. User Acceptance Testing is a sensible thing to do when introducing anything, let alone something that impacts hundreds of millions of people. In your case, UAT should not something conducted by your own programmers who, naturally, will give whatever it is a go, but something released to limited groups of users after inviting them to participate. Offer them a 10% off coupon at Amazon.com and you'll get more feedback and suggestions for your buck, than you ever could from your own testers.

Not to keep your technical development team out of work, I suggest that you direct their efforts toward establishing sensible guidelines for Facebook content propriety. At the moment, those rules appear to be much like something from Orwell's 1984 mixed with Objectionable Materials Law from V for Vendetta. On one hand, profiles are suspended for posting photos of artwork and beautiful tasteful images celebrating human body. The most outrageous occurrence of this type took place, when someone shared lovely photos that would later be used in posters for an anti-breast cancer campaign, only to have them deleted by Facebook after some snitch reported them as pornographic. On the other hand, profiles of porn actors with links to X-rated web sites are alive and well, as well as profiles and groups pushing truly offensive and violent content. I still cannot believe how long it took to get rid of the group of users who continued creating the “Hitting Women” group, and the credit for finally putting a stop to that outrage goes entirely to Facebook users who kept tracking and reporting the group until it was finally gone for good.

Again – you are a big serious company now. If you are going to have policies, at least have sensible ones. Do not use 'bots to make decisions about Facebook images and content; hire some living breathing human beings and encourage them to use common sense. There are immature idiots everywhere, including in the Facebook community. There are some who would snitch on other users out of childish spite. There are others who create groups encouraging violence and prejudice, just to see if they can get away with it. Do you really want to encourage such behavior?

You are the leaders of a unique organization that has been enabling people to connect regardless of political and religious preferences, race, country of origin, gender or any other criteria that tend to divide people outside of the Facebook forum. Please do not let this community be turned away and fall apart due to badly implemented set of on-line gadgets and a petty and divisive minority.


DriveGoddess said...

Thanks maria, now I don't have to write it!! I would however also add that I do not like the fact that my websites are no longer visible on my wall page...and that it is now totally messed up with some of teh photo protocols...

Kenni said...

All of the above, and a more mundane complaint: Why won't posts that I "hide" STAY "hidden"? I get some fluff on my news feed that I'd rather not see at all, but I don't want to "hide all by ___" because of other posts. Then there are many posts that I'm glad to see once, but don't need to keep. And then there are others that I do want to go back to at a later time -- and not have them buried amongst those I've already hidden once!

Admin said...

Well said, powerful statement, posted on my FB.

pamela said...

To the point, intelligent and pertinent. There is a definite basic re-organisation to be thought out. Bravo Maria!